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Celebrity Bake Off 2021: The contestants share their favourite cookbooks

From Stacey Dooley to James McAvoy, this year’s line-up is stellar

Eva Waite-Taylor
Tuesday 16 March 2021 22:40
<p>Nigel Slater’s books are a firm favourite among the bakers</p>

Nigel Slater’s books are a firm favourite among the bakers

Get your whisks at the ready, there’s a fresh batch of celebrities gracing our screens for The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer.

As usual, the line-up of bakers is stellar. The stars that will be greasing their baking tins include James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, Philippa Perry, Rob Beckett, Stacey Dooley, John Bishop and Dame Kelly Holmes, to name just a few.

Read more: Everything you need to be a star baker, according to previous ‘Bake Off’ contestants

Each episode of the five-part series, aired weekly from Tuesday 9 March, will see four celebrities battle it out over the three usual challenges – the signature, the technical and, of course, the showstopper – in a bid to become star baker.

You can expect some familiar faces, included judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Lieth, while Matt Lucas will resume his duties as presenter, but this time it’ll be solo as Noel Fielding wasn’t available for filming.

As with all series of Bake Off, there will be all the usual innuendos, disasters and triumphs, with Philippa Perry icing “help” onto her biscuits and Tom Allen almost receiving a Hollywood handshake.

All of this is in aid of Stand Up To Cancer, a fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, that since its launch in 2012 has raised more than £62m for clinical trials and projects involving 11,000 cancer patients across the country.

Ahead of this year’s series, we asked the Bake Off stars to share their favourite cookbooks, from Delia Smith to Nigel Slater. These are the celebrity-recommended titles you need to add to your baking repertoire.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across TheIndependent.

Tom Allen’s pick: ‘Delia’s Complete Cookery Course’ by Delia Smith, published by Ebury Publishing

Tom Allen is an English comedian, actor, writer and presenter

It’s hardly a surprise that the queen of the kitchen features in this collection of the celebrities’ favourite cookbooks, and its Delia’s calming words that Allen praises. Her ability to talk you through making something like a “proper custard” is “so soothing”, he says, adding that “at times, it’s vaguely chastising re any confusion on vanilla extract vs vanilla essence, but I quite like that”.

“Delia isn’t trying to be our friend, she’s telling us how to bake better and through that, it feels like we’re becoming better people. As far as her famous phrase, ‘Let’s be having ya!’ goes, she had us at ‘Preheat your oven to gas mark 4’.”

Reece Shearsmith’s pick: ‘Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles’ by Nigel Slater, published by Fourth Estate

Reece Shearsmith is an actor, writer and comedian

We were surprised to see a festive cookbook in the collection, but Shearsmith admits: “Nigel loves Christmas and it’s build-up almost as much as me.” Slater’s book covers “every day from Bonfire Night on 5 November to Candlemass (the end of Christmas for Tudor times) on 2 February”. If you’re looking for a “delicious cosy read stuffed full of amazing treats and sumptuous dishes for every day of the festive season”, then this is the one for you.

Philippa Perry’s pick: ‘Completely Perfect: 120 Essential Recipes for Every Cook’ by Felicity Cloake, published by Penguin Books

Philippa Perry is a psychotherapist and author

Over the years, Felicity Cloake has put various recipes to the test to see whose given version of the dish is best, and this cookbook is the ultimate manual for creating the perfect version of everything. “She tells you about how she gets to the perfect recipe and gives alternatives too so you can alter it to your taste,” says Perry, before noting that the book “follows along the lines I cook – nothing set in stone and many variations on the same dish or bake”. As for her favourite recipe? The ginger cake is the best she’s ever tasted – “especially when I doubled the ginger!”

“On the whole, though I tend not to use recipes for baking. I have embodied the basics and then play about with them. Whether my approach is entirely successful or not? Well, Bake Off will reveal all.”

Anneka Rice’s pick: ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater, published by HaperCollins

Anneka Rice is a television presenter, broadcaster and writer

Nigel Slater is a clear favourite among the celebrities, and while Rice noted that she didn’t have a favourite baking book, this cookbook is her go-to. From it you can expect a comprehensive guide to all your favourite comfort foods including baked goats’ cheese and pesto in filo pastry, smoked mackerel dauphinoise and even a classic bacon butty.

Celebrate the wonderful range of food writing with our round-up of the longlisted titles for the André Simon awards

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